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Organic Chinese Food/Restaurant

Greetings,

Does anyone know of an organic Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area, preferably one that specifies where the meat comes from (since "organic" doesn't mean much with respect to meat and dairy).

Thanks!

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  1. my impression is that chinese people don't pay as much emphasis on organic food as they do on taste. some of them, however, do care about the quality of the meat and the source of it, for example, certain type of chicken, etc.), so certain higher end chinese restaurants do use better ingredients.

    i suspect that if there is an organic chinese restaurant, the food may not be as 'chinese' as one would like.

    what kind of chinese are you specifically are you looking to eat? that may help narrow it down.

    i think there is an organic dim sum place somewhere in sf, there may be an organic place in the marina. both are somewhat westernized as i vaguely recall.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ckshen

      Hi, interesting you mention your impression that Chinese people put more emphasis on taste than farming practices or quality, as I got the same impression.

      I'm just looking to eat chow mein, fried rice, wonton soup, kung pao, etc. In other words, dishes you'd find on this menu:

      http://south-san-francisco.eat24hours...

      1. re: Nate650

        I don't think organic is a word that chinese people use a lot. i tend to believe that it is because farming practices in china/ asia resemble closer to the western mechanization/ fertilization/ pesticide practices long after the same practices become prevalent in the western world, particularly in the states. before that, everything is pretty 'organic' and somewhat local but nobody will label their food as organic because that's the norm rather than the exception. to this day the word organic still is not used frequently in the chinese world. on menus, good ingredients may not be emphasized the same way as in western menus - 'marin sun farm grass fed beef with soul food farm organic free range egg, etc.'. but discerning patrons is aware of the source and gravitate towards the good ingredients.

        when i said that chinese people don't place as much emphasis on organic, i don't necessarily think that they don't like organic or care about organic practices as you mentioned, but i believe that the word 'organic' is used a lot more frequently in the western world and carries the 'allure' whether or not the ingredients itself, organic they may be, justifies such attraction. and as i mentioned certain segment of Chinese people care very much about the quality of the food/ meat, just like a certain segment of western folks care about the same and they go to restaurants that offer the better ingredients/ options. on the flipside, there are also a bunch of chinese and westerners who don't care about quality of their food, and choose their dining options accordingly.

        nowadays, where quality is demanded, the source of the ingredients is also heavily stressed. when the dish where the meat is the star, like whole chicken, etc, nicer restaurants have good ingredients and people know the source of the ingredients. that said, for dishes such as chow mein, fried rice, wonton soup where the preparation calls for mincing and dicing of the meat to somewhat unrecognizable shapes, its rare to see the best ingredients used in those cases.

        1. re: ckshen

          Also for many of us, organic isn't worth the price differential that you have to pay.

      2. Charlie Hong Kong in Santa Cruz is great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mlutsky

          Charlie Hong Kong is a pretty novel concept for the Bay Area (order food at a window and eat it at outdoor tables), but to me barely qualifies as a Chinese restaurant. There are lots of preps that are clearly Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, etc. The emphasis is much more on healthy ingredients than authenticity of flavors/cuisine.

          1. re: bigwheel042

            A UCSC alum suggested it to me and I was very disappointed. It's not Chinese food at all.

        2. Danny Bowien waited on us today at Mission Chinese Food and happened to mention that all their meat & vegetables are organically (or maybe he said responsibly) sourced. Food was tasty and spicy! Definitely worth checking out.

          http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

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          Mission Chinese Food
          2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          13 Replies
          1. re: possumspice

            Responsibly sourced would make more sense.

            He's all about trying to balance value and quality, which is why he used Harris Ranch (granted, still organic) beef for Mission Burger instead of something like Niman Ranch or Marin Sun Farms. So I'm guessing that the ingredients at Mission Chinese Food are all high-quality, they just might not come from t he famous farms we're used to hearing about.

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            Mission Chinese Food
            2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

            Mission Burgers
            135 Anza St, Fremont, CA 94539

            1. re: vulber

              Harris Ranch beef is not organic. It is typical industrial (i.e., GMO) corn-fed feedlot beef and is an example of the type of beef I'd like to avoid.

              1. re: Nate650

                If you have any questions about organic and Harris, just put down your window when driving on I5 in San Joaquin valley.

                  1. re: Nate650

                    I was wrong abou tHarris Ranch, but keep in mind that large amounts of cattle in confined feedlots does not prevent something from being organic.

                    1. re: vulber

                      Yeah, the definition of "organic" is sketchy sometimes.

                      1. re: Nate650

                        "Organic" is strictly defined by federal regulations, but they cover only what animals are fed and how they're slaughtered.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          There is a new law that applies to organic beef (not sure if it applies to all organic meats) which states that organic beef must come from cows that spend at least 30% of their time grazing on pasture grasses. I'm unclear though whether it took effect this past June or it will take effect next June.

                          1. re: Nate650

                            It took effect last June 17, but enterprises certified before Februalry 17 of this year are given until June 17, 2011 to comply, so it's next year for all practical purposes. http://is.gd/fLbbp

            2. re: possumspice

              Bowien said "responsibly sourced proteins and vegetables" in this interview:

              http://sf.eater.com/archives/2010/06/...

              Neither Harris Ranch nor Niman Ranch nor Marin Sun Farms beef is organic.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I'd be more interested in grass fed beef than certified organic beef, as organic feedlots do exist. So sadly the only difference between industrial meat and some organic meat brands may be that the feed is organic, and no anbiotics and hormones are used, but that's about it. Marin Sun Farms is not certified organic by choice, but they do raise their meat organically and is by far the best option out of those three.

                1. re: Nate650

                  The sticking point for most would-be organic beef ranchers is getting through the winter without occasionally having to resort to non-organic feed. I'm skeptical that Marin Sun Farms' statement "choose to not certify with the federal government" should be read as a claim that they could be certified organic without changing any of their practices.

                  http://www.marinsunfarms.com/products...

                  Prather Ranch is certified organic, but many of their expensive practices are subsidized by their primary business of producing raw materials for the production of medical products such as pharmaceutical-grade collagen.

                  -----
                  Prather Ranch
                  1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

            3. Heaven's Dog, Tru Gourmet, Imperial Tea Court

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              Imperial Tea Court
              1411 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133

              Tru Gourmet
              San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

              Heaven's Dog
              1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

              1 Reply
              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                I've no experience with Heaven's Dog or Imperial Tea Court, but Tru Gourmet makes some really delicious Dim Sum. The stuff we had was locally caught and sustainable fish, Marin Sun pork (I think), and all-around wonderful. They don't have a brick and mortar location, so you'll have to find them at the Marin farmer's market or various street eats events. They are worth searching out--the dim sum was that good, to me.

                I really love the food at Mission Chinese Food. Not really authentic, but not Americanized either. This is a weird analogy, but here goes nothing: Delfina is about as Italian as Mission Chinese Food is Chinese. They both innovate in ways that make sense in California, and both use good quality California ingredients.

                -----
                Delfina Restaurant
                3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Imperial Tea Court
                1411 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                Tru Gourmet
                San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                Mission Chinese Food
                2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Heaven's Dog
                1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

              2. Well if you don't mind skipping real meat, there's Loving Hut in Chinatown.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Other than being Vegan, calling their food "healthy" and tossing the word "green" around, I don't think Loving Hut makes any representations about the source of their food.

                  1. re: soupçon

                    The SF branch's menu specifies that a few things are organic, including the rice.

                2. This might be worth checking into - I've only eaten there once but had a good impression overall:

                  Renee's Place
                  1477 Solano Avenue
                  Albany, CA 94706

                  reneesplacerestaurant.com/

                  Their website speaks a bit about their sourcing and efforts to use organic when possible.

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                  Renee's Place
                  1477 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Tinachi

                    Awesome, Niman Ranch and Prather Ranch meats, thanks!

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                    Prather Ranch
                    1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

                  2. What about Abacus? Admittedly, much more Asian Fusion than Chinese

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                    Asian Fusion
                    43543 Mission Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539

                    1. A thread about Chinese food got to 25 replies without mentioning China Village? Inconceivable!

                      I've only seen dishes that specifically mention the chicken as organic, but I haven't been in a while -- there may be more. I imagine they'd know the provenance of many of their ingredients even if they weren't organic. And it's just down the street from Renee's so you could check them both out on the same trip.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Nina

                        China Village gets a lot of stuff from China. I haven't seen any reference to organic ingredients on their menu.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Look on the specials white board. The organic chicken is served on the bone.

                      2. The owner of Old Islamic Mandarin on Vicente in San Francisco (a Mr Yang) was briefly interviewed on local Chinese TV programming KTSF, aired last night, and from the bits I could understand, he claimed that for an additional cost of $1 you can get organic lamb that he sources from New Zealand (versus non organic which he didn't state where it comes from). I'm not sure if this is an obvious option/upgrade, and whether it is for hotpot, or applies to all lamb dishes (dumplings, stir fry). The thing I disagree with is how he claimed halal = organic, but that's another topic in itself.

                        1. I would try Harmony in Mill Valley. I don't know about their meat specifically, but they are local and organic oriented in general, and delicious!